Monday, April 29, 2013

OLW for April: On the Move!

Well, after things seemed dull and slow, many, many changes have come my way this month!  My husband just started at a new job, and I am moving to first grade next year after teaching third for 9 years straight!  I'm also heading back to my old school building, which I am very excited about.  I think the administration is going to suit me well, and I can't wait to get back with my old colleagues, many of whom are close friends.  On top of that, my son just turned 3 (can't believe it!) and my mom is retiring from teaching after several decades in fourth grade.   It's so funny how life can change in the blink of an eye.  At first, I was a bit terrified about first grade, but now I'm really excited.  I think it's going to be great!!  And, as my current team members pointed out in the middle of dreaded state testing last week, I won't have any more standardized tests in first, which takes a lot of stress away.  So, I'm thankful for the movements that are working in my life right now.  I'm glad my one little word is having so much power in my life this year!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

OLW: March- Moving Along...slowly

Have you ever seen the Disney movie Aladdin?  When the genie is introduced, he explains himself as having, "phenomenal cosmic powers!!! itty, bitty living space."  That little movie line came to me as I was thinking about how I'm feeling right now, as in "phenomenal brilliant ideas!!!! itty, bitty time/motivation."  Hmm, I need to get some motivational power on my side, because honestly, I don't feel like I've moved forward on anything lately.  (school wise anyway- my outdoor veggie garden space is looking great and my sprouts are shooting up nicely in the basement!)  But I am garnering strength to push on through this last nine weeks.  I need spring to come and get me moving again! Hope you are feeling motivated in your own corner of the world... :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Technology in the Classroom...Where is it?

Image from Google Images
To have or not to have...that is the technology question in education.  More often than not, it's the "not to have" side, and it's true for our district as well.  Recently, our technology department has been rolling out a new website designed as a "one stop shop" where teachers and students can access email, Powerschool (a management database), Schoology (a social networking type site for teachers and students), and Google Drive (for document creation and file sharing).  It sounds good, and they are continually sending out emails to encourage people to use this website.  The only problem...our operating systems are so old that they can't support the site!  The tech department can encourage people all they like, but when our own school computers can't support the features of the website, it's not going to be used.  Furthermore, it's incredibly frustrating for those of us who really want to use it!  Ok, enough ranting, but my point is, this happens all the time when technology meets education.  Teachers are expected to keep up with the latest developments, prepare students for a tech-savvy future, and use technology highly effectively in their classrooms - which is awfully hard to do when the only technology you have available is a set of 30 laptops that the whole school shares and you get to use them every other week for 45 minutes at a time.  On top of that, our students will apparently be taking their PARCC assessments on the computer in two years' time, but with only 30 computers for the whole school, how will that even happen?  Unfortunately, I don't have many answers, but I hope that districts realize they must invest in technology and keep it updated for teachers to effectively use it.  This mismatch of expectations and reality will cost us dearly going forward.  Anyone else out there face this problem?  How do you handle it? Thanks for stopping by...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

OLW February: Moving Quickly

Ok, yes, this is a few days late.  But in my defense, our house has been swamped by the plague in the past 10 days.  Our little family of three has been diagnosed with varying combos of croup, ear infections, pinkeye, and strep throat in the past week and a half!  Throw in two nights of parent conferences, and well..I'm two days behind.  But it really got me thinking how time has been moving so quickly at this point in the school year.  It's the time of year where everyone feels the crunch, the push to get curriculum topics in before testing, to catch up with the pacing you're already behind, to follow up with the special plans you've put in place for kiddos.  It's a busy time for teachers, and I'm feeling the crunch too.  With just two weeks until our first round of tests, I know I haven't taught all the topics they will be tested on.  It's frustrating to have kids tested on topics they are meant to learn throughout the year, at just past the midpoint of the year!  I'm feeling the need to move as quickly as possible, but I do not want to sacrifice understanding for testing pressure.  So, I'm trying to strike a balance and stay the course, reminding myself that this happens every year and we all survive.  In moving forward though, I look forward to spring, getting out from under the weight of winter and moving on with my class.  In the meantime, we will keep moving forward as best we can!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pinterest Anyone?

So, if you know me personally, you know I am obsessed with Pinterest.  Of course, my personal boards are filled with the things I love and find fascinating, but beyond my personal interests, Pinterest is a wonderful place for teachers to share with one another!  Tracy and I had talked in the beginning of the school year about how this type of sharing would be beneficial for our grade level teams, so we decided to create a Pinterest account for the school.  I created the boards for each grade level, as well as "shared" boards for similar grade levels, and the shared boards have been a hit!  The 3,4,5 shared board has become a great sharing resource, and it has created a space for all of us to contribute to without pinning things one at a time from each other.  Are you on Pinterest?  If you are, come follow us! If you're not on Pinterest, I urge you to try it out!  You don't need a Facbook account anymore, just an email address.  Hope you love it as much as I do! Thanks for stopping by... Erin

Spotlight FTE

Saturday, January 26, 2013

OLW January: Move

After a week of inside recesses, it's clear that my one little word is buzzing in my students' heads. MOVE! They are desperate for some activity, and it's always a struggle to keep busy bodies in control when you can't get outside and run.  The ironic thing has the opposite effect on me.  Being stuck inside only makes me want to cuddle up with a book under a blanket and stay put for hours.  So it's against my natural instincts to buzz about this time of year.  This conflict of interests is a constant give and take in my classroom, and especially this year, I've had to adjust my literacy block to accomodate my students' needs.  Here's how I would love my literacy block to go: everyone dives deeply into their books, getting comfortable and settling in for a long reader's journey into another book world, breaking every so often to share thoughts with one another.  Eventually, we would meet and discuss what we're reading, and I'd weave the teaching points for the day into the conversation, giving them real context by applying them to their current reading, and then we'd go off to our book worlds again to apply and get lost once more.  Sound like paradise?  Well, fantasies are supposed to be good.  Here's how my students want it to go: read some comic book for 5 minutes, then draw the characters from the book doing funny things while talking to my friends for the rest of the time.  Hmmmm.. not quite what I'd pictured!  Well, to be fair, I think I have a couple of students who'd prefer my lit block, but they are far outnumbered.  To strike a balance somewhere in the middle, I've had to carve out 20 minute chunks for my literacy block, and we stick to our schedules religiously.  Each reading group, or in certain cases- individual student, has their own plan that moves them from activity to activity in 20 minute rotations.  It's designed to help them get physical movement in the long stretch of literacy block, and keep things fresh. Schedules include silent reading time, whole group lesson, iPod listening, Tumblebooks, comprehension activities, and more.  I've tried to make each piece meaningful while also independently sustainable so I can teach reading groups at the same time.  While all this movement has been good for them, it's a real struggle for me!  But in the light of my one little word, I'm moving forward with this plan.  I'd love any suggestions on how others handle their literacy blocks, I'm always looking to adjust this. Thanks for stopping by...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A "Moving" Moment

A little moment of success today- I was reading The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lansky to my class.  It's the biography of Eratosthenes, a Greek philosopher and geographer with a passion for learning by seeking answers to questions.  The book repeats several times how questioning was his motivation for learning, and in the middle of the reading a student raised his hand and said, "So, Eratosthenes was like, the first Wonderopolis, right?" YES!  I loved it!  It was a beautiful connection to inquiry learning.  After reading the author's note discussing how there were still so many questions about Eratosthenes' life, another student suggested that we submit a wonder about him to Wonderopolis. So we did! Here's hoping they will provide us with even more information about this leader of inquiry learning!